In Paris, if the walk is less than an hour, I take my time to enjoy the city views.
A month long roster of sartorial exploration (give or take the post-show soiree or two), fashion’s bi-annual resort spell brings a host of new trends, faces and temperaments to the forefront.
It’s also a conduit for fresh and season defining hair moments; our industry’s greatest gathering amidst the madness to scatter their backstage magic. Hello Sam and Guido.
Ahead of yet another Spring/Summer sojourn… NYFW SS20 here we come… local stylist Craig Rhodes shares an insight on the real goings on in, around and backstage at international fashion weeks.
Over to you, Craig.
My Fashion Week Diary: Craig Rhodes
Show/Location(s): Dior Haute Couture FW19/20 (Paris), Givenchy Haute Couture FW19/20 (Paris), Valentino Haute Couture FW19/20 (Paris), Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda (Sicily), Dolce & Gabbana Alta Sartoria (Sicily).
Time you woke up: Call time varied, 5am wakeup for a 7am call time at Dior being the earliest. That and a 4am wakeup for a 6.20am flight to Sicily for Dolce & Gabbana.
Hotel location(s): Airbnb is my best friend when travelling. In Paris, I usually stay around St Germaine but this season I was based in Montmartre.
First thing you did when you arrived in Paris? I ate dinner, then went to bed. Arriving in Paris late on a Monday night (with a 7am call time the next day) doesn’t leave you with room for much.
Backstage arrival time: This varied everyday. The earliest time was 7am and the latest was 2pm.
(Average) time it took to reach prep location? In Paris, if the walk was less than an hour, I’d take my time to enjoy the city views. Otherwise it was an Uber or the Metro for, approximately 20 minutes
Time spent prepping backstage: Most shows required around 4-6 hours of backstage prep.
The backstage vibe was… Always amazing. Super hot because of the heatwave in Europe at the time (especially in Sicily!) and always intense in the last hour.
Number of models walking the show: Average model number was between 50-60… but the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda show had 127!
Top model sightings? Kaia, Gigi and Bella were always around. Lauren Hutton walking at Valentino was amazing, especially considering she’s 75.
Number of hairdressers assisting backstage: 40-50 depending on show.
Hero product backstage: Redken’s Forceful 23 Hairspray.
Quantity of Redken Forceful cans used backstage: Who knows… let’s just say a lot!
Number of coffees consumed… Far too many.
Highlight of the week… Being flown to Sicily for Dolce & Gabbana and seeing the shows held in amazing, Ancient Greek Temples.
Something new you learnt this Fashion Week… At Valentino I watched Guido sculpt hair using hairspray, a comb and a hair dryer. Genius.
What do you love most about working with Guido Palau? He’s a genius. He just touches hair and it magically changes into something beautiful. That and working on some of the biggest shows in the world!!!
What you love most about international Fashion Weeks… The craziness and pressure. I feel super comfortable and confident in those situations. Also, any reason to get on a plane…
Daily rituals? Preplan the night before… you have to be on time. I also read between shows. At present I’m reading The Yellow House which is about Vincent Van Gogh’s and Paul Gauguin’s time in Arles.
To unwind post show? If I’m in New York it’s always a key lime cheesecake from Magnolia Bakery… a pre-flight tradition. That or a wine/beer from a dodgy Dive bar in NYC.
Favourite backstage memory… I now think its actually the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda show. It was just so surreal being in an ancient temple at sunset, and being a part of the biggest show I’ve ever done.
Number of shows to date? I would say between 80-100 over the past six years. You tend to forget how many you’ve done until you find a reminder.
First show? NYFW 2012, CZAR by Cesar Galindo. Lot’s of taxidermy…
How did you get your start working backstage at Fashion Weeks? I was trying to improve my hairdressing. Six years ago, styling was my weakest point so I thought about ways I could potentially improve. My logic said, ‘Buy a flight to New York and try to get into Fashion Week shows…’ So I did, and haven’t looked back.
Any final words of advice or wisdom? If you want to get into this side of the industry, be prepared for the long haul and say yes to every opportunity you’re given access to.
Until next time.